A Christmas Day Hockey Match at Rhyl

BFI Player introduces this wonderful film of a hockey match played on Christmas Day at Rhyl  in 1920 with: “Happy Festive Hockey” and the players do seem to be having lots of fun.

Click on the link to watch the film: “Christmas Sports at Rhyl, 1920

The site goes on to explain:

“The weather seems good, with no-one shivering in their kit – though the women do wear hats. There is no Christmassy setting of snow or any other seasonal prop in evidence at this hockey match for ‘mixed ladies and gentlemen’, where banter and banjo-mimicking seems to engage both sides’ participants as much as bully-off and dab-hand dribbling. Meeting, not beating, seems to be the point here.
This match took place on the site of the former Claremont Hydro hotel, along Brighton Road, Rhyl – a hydropathic hotel which had an indoor baths for relaxation and health treatment. The Claremont Hydro later became a men’s convalescent/retirement home called Y Gorlan, and the building was demolished in the early 1980s.”

The local paper reported that a hockey match was played on Grange Road between Rhyl Mixed (five ladies and six men) and Grosvenor Ladies (assisted by four men) on Christmas Day, the score was 1-1.  Presumably this is the same match – take a look at the film, the Claremont Hydro (Y Gorlan) can be clearly seen and is that St. Winifred’s with the tower?  Is that the railway running between the pitch and the Claremont? So is this Grange Road, where Elwy Drive is today?

When did hockey begin in Rhyl?  This quote is from Hockey Wales : “The modern forms of Hockey that we know and love today really only began to grow from the English public school system of the 19th Century. The first recognised Hockey Club began in 1849 in London and it was only a matter of time until Wales became involved, with hockey introduced around the 1890s.”
Indeed, the first mention of hockey in Rhyl appears to be in The Rhyl Record and Advertiser on November 1st 1890:

“THE HOCKEY CLUB.”

“The practises of the Rhyl Hockey Club have so far been very encouraging, and it is hoped ere long to arrange a match with a Liverpool team. It is a game full of interest, and anyone can soon learn it which is certainly an advantage. I hope the tradesmen will support it, for I believe it has been formed principally to afford them recreation, and the half holiday can be pleasantly spent at the game.  I invite those gentlemen interested in the game of Hockey to send in a few notes on the game each week, but they must be strictly local.”

How nice to have local sporting fixtures arranged on Christmas Day.  A time when such simple things  didn’t have to compete with everything that is on offer today.

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